Motorola Q9m Review

by Reads (49,366)

Index:
Consumer Driven
Keyboard Not Numberpad
The Mobile Web
Say Cheese
Not Just Fun and Games
Pocket Size
Battery Life
Accessories
Are You on the Target?
Photo Gallery

The Motorola Q9m is the successor to the popular Motorola Q. This smartphone includes a number of improvements over the earlier model, including an updated operating system.

Consumer Driven

Windows Mobile smartphones are generally targeted at business users, but not this one. Its predecessor was surprisingly popular with hipsters, and Verizon decided to run with that in the new model.

Motorola Q music 9m
Motorola Q9m
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This smartphone’s black and red casing is much more appropriate for a concert than a board room, and Verizon has added plenty of touches to make this device more appealing to consumers.

The "M" in Q9m stands for music, and the standard Windows Mobile Today Screen — designed with business users in mind — has been replaced with a home screen that lets you quickly find and play music and video.

Naturally, it offers support for the V-Cast music service, allowing you to buy and download songs right on your phone. And because this model includes a 3G wireless service called EV-DO, you can be listening to a song you just purchased ($1.99) in less than a minute.

This service isn’t perfect. The selection of obscure songs is just OK, and any search that begins with "Paul" results in a server error. Still, when you’re on the road and need some new tunes, it can be a lifesaver.

The Q9m even has an external pair of stereo speakers, if you want to share a song with someone, but I’m guessing most people will prefer to use a set of headphones.

Even better, this smartphone offers support for Bluetooth stereo headphones, so you can listen to your favorite songs without being burdened by wires.

A good music collection takes up tons of storage space. Unlike the iPhone this model doesn’t come with gigabytes of built-in storage, but it does have a slot for miniSD cards. Thanks to SDHC support, you can add large amounts of storage capacity, and cards can be easily swapped in and out.

Beyond V-Cast, the Q9m comes with a version of the Windows Media Player that can handle audio and video, including streaming multimedia in Microsoft’s format for this.

Keyboard Not Numberpad

Keyboard
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If you send a lot of text messages from your phone, then you’re going to love the Q9m’s keyboard. It’s one of the best I’ve ever used on a smartphone.

The keys are a good size and shape. They are all right next to each other, but because they have a convex shape, they don’t feel jammed in together.

What I like most is that the keys have a slightly rough texture than makes them easy to press without your finger slipping.

Its the keyboard that makes this model from Moto a hands down better messaging device than your average phone. We’ve all heard about those people who can do 60 words a minute with T9, but you can’t convince me it’s faster to hit "9-9-9-9" than it is to just hit the "S" key.

The Mobile Web

The web browser on a typical phone can be painful. But that’s not the case if you’re using the Q9m.

Internet Explorer Mobile does a pretty good job of handling a variety of web sites, even ones designed for full-size computers. It has a desktop mode that lets you scroll around horizontally and vertically on pages, or it can reformat pages until they are only as wide as the screen.

It can’t handle sites based on Macromedia Flash, though.

If you want an even better Web experience, you can get Opera Mini, which is a free download.

Whatever browser you’re using, this is a situation where the Q9m’s EV-DO support comes in handy. Opening pages isn’t as fast as a desktop hooked to a cable modem, but it’s acceptable. The standard Facebook home page opens in about 10 or 15 seconds, for example.

Say Cheese

Naturally, the Motorola Q9m has a built-in camera. At 1.3 megapixels I wouldn’t recommend it as the only camera you take on vacation, but it’s perfect for snapping images for your MMS messages.

I’ve included a couple of sample pictures I took, so you’ll have some idea of what to expect.

It has an LED flash, but don’t think for a second this is going to light up a group of people at dimly lit night club. It’s able to make a marginal picture slightly less marginal. but that’s as far as it goes. Check my second and third examples to see what I’m talking about.

Not Just Fun and Games

If this was a review of a typical — or even high end — feature phone, it would be time to wrap things up. But the Q9m isn’t a feature phone, it’s a smartphone, so its feature set is just getting started.

Just about all phones have an address book, but the Q9m has a very full-featured one that can be synchronized with Microsoft Outlook. The same goes for its calendar.

If you don’t have a laptop and you want to view and edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files when you’re away from your desktop, you can do so on your phone, thanks to Documents To Go.

DataViz Word To Go

This isn’t the standard suite of applications for working with Microsoft Office files that’s bundled with Windows Mobile. Instead, it’s an improved set of apps that has been created by a company called DataViz.

With it, you can get a document by email, make some changes, and mail it back, even if you’re on a bus or a train. And with the Q9m’s integrated keyboard, your changes don’t have to be minor. People with similar devices write pages and pages of text.

My favorite part of Docs To Go is the InTact technology. This lets you make modifications to Office documents without messing up, or even stripping out, the formatting.

In addition, there are tons of third-party applications available for smartphones running Windows Mobile 6 Standard, as this one does. This includes everything from productivity software to games.

Pocket Size

Motorola Q9m vs Q
Motorola Q9m vs. Motorola Q
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There’s a strong drive these days toward smaller and smaller phones. With this in mind, I’d put this Motorola model somewhere in the middle of the range.

At 0.5 inches it’s fairly slim, but from the front it’s 4.6 inches tall and 2.6 inches wide. Still, it’s easily pocketable for guys, and its 4.8 ounces aren’t going to weigh you down.

It’s less friendly for girl-type clothing. This is going to be something you’d carry around in a purse.

Battery Life

The battery life of the original Motorola Q on the standard battery was never very good, and its predecessor is no different. With heavy use you can easily kill the battery in a day, and even with moderate use you’ll be lucky to go two days between charges.

Doubtless there will be extended batteries on the market soon that will let you go longer before charging up, but "extended" includes the size as well. You can expect these to thicken the Q9m up a bit.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that no smartphone has the really huge battery life of a standard "dumb" phone. The faster processors and larger screens draw more power, draining the battery more quickly.

Accessories

The Motorola Q9m is charged through a mini-USB port. Naturally it comes with a charger for this purpose, and it’s very snippy about using chargers made by other companies.

You can also use this connection to hook this smartphone to your PC to synchronize with Outlook or install applications.

Irritatingly, you’re on your own getting a headset or set of headphones, as one isn’t included. I’m really surprised — and disappointed — considering this smartphone’s strong emphasis on music.

The Q9m comes with a soft case to protect it from scratches, but this fits so tightly it’s hard to get the device in and out.

As this model doesn’t have a touchscreen, naturally it doesn’t include a stylus.

Are You on the Target?

It’s easy to tell who Motorola and Verizon are aiming the Q9m at, and I think they have done a good job of meeting that group’s needs.

If you like the idea of buying, downloading, and listening to music on your phone, and you frequently send lots of text messages and/or emails when you’re on the go, then this device is right for you.

And it isn’t all about leisure. The Q9m’s ability to create and edit Microsoft Office files means it’s useful for school and work, too.

The base price for the Q9m is $470, but that drops down to $350 with a two-year contract. In addition, Verizon is offering a $100 discount for those who buy the device online, bringing the cost down to $250.

Photo Gallery

 
Motorola Q9m vs. Motorola Q
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  Motorola Q9m vs. Motorola Q
vs. Palm Treo 680

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Motorola Q9m vs. Palm Treo 680
(view large image)
   


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